A thesis is a concise statement of your argument, usually written in one sentence. It must be more than simply a restatement of the topic you are addressing—it should let the reader know about the conclusions you have reached in the process of your reading and research. As Mary Lynn Rampolla writes, “A thesis is not a statement of fact, a question, or an opinion, although it is sometimes confused with all these things. Neither is a thesis the same as the topic…. A thesis informs the reader about the conclusions you have reached…. As a result, the thesis is the central point to which all the information in the paper relates.”1 For that reason, it should always be written before the rest of the paper because it will set the tone for the rest of the work. Write your working thesis sentence (a working thesis is subject to some tweaking) and put it in bold italics in the header of your paper drafts. This way you can easily refer back to it without toggling through several pages (of course, change the formatting back to normal before you submit it to your professor).
For a writer in the drafting stages, the thesis establishes the focus of the paper. This helps you decide which information to include and which information to exclude. Essentially, a thesis “is a road map for the paper.”2 For the reader, the thesis anticipates the author’s discussion, sets the tone of the paper, and illustrates exactly what you are trying to prove. Thesis statements are central to argumentative and persuasive essays.
First, you must figure out the goal of the assignment and if there is a particular question your professor expects you to address in your essay. Knowing the goal of the assignment is essential. Then, “before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships.”3...
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